Skating Rink Rededicated in Foote's HonorNORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Peter Ferris and Jared Geary grew up playing in the local hockey rink.
On Saturday morning, they were back at the rink — not to play hockey — but to honor their fallen uncle, Peter W. Foote III, an Army sergeant who died in combat during the Vietnam War. Foote was the only North Adams native who lost his life in Vietnam, and his legend was alive and well on Armed Forces Day at the rededication of the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink on South Church Street.
|A plaque with Foote's picture and his various medals and insignias will be hung in the skating rink. A member of American Legion Post 155 looks it over following Saturday's rededication.
Ferris was named after his uncle by his mother Paula, Foote's surviving sister, who was among a crowd of more than 100 people, which included Foote's childhood friend Joe Ames, Mayor Richard J. Alcombright and former Mayor John Barrett III, who began the effort to name the rink in Foote's honor.
Foote was a star three-sport athlete at Drury High School (class of 1966) and is considered one of the greatest to ever don a Blue Devils jersey. After a brief stint at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Foote enlisted in basic training and became an airborne paratrooper. In 1967, Foote was sent to Vietnam.
Foote, 21 years old, died in combat in 1968 while saving the life of a fellow soldier, an act that posthumously earned him the Purple Heart and Silver Medal, which is the second-highest military decoration behind the Medal of Honor. While combating the enemy in Tuy Hoa, a city located in south-central Vietnam, Foote came to the aid of a comrade who had been wounded. Foote was moving the wounded soldier to friendly lines when he was fatally shot by sniper's fire.
|Joe Ames, who was good friends with Foote, delivers an emotional speech in front of the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink.
But Foote eventually got his chance to shine.
"He looked like a left-handed Greg Landry," Ames said while fighting off tears. "He moved that team down the field with a series of perfectly thrown passes. It's almost like he couldn't let us down for coming to see him. After the scrimmage, I remember him coming over to us with his helmet off, smiling, and he introduced us to another quarterback named Frank.
"Pete said to us, 'Had Frank gotten in there, you would have really seen some football.' That was Pete: humble and always thinking of his friends."
Soon after Foote's funeral, Ames created the Peter Foote Memorial Scholarship, an award that is still given annually to a Drury High School senior.
The Drury band provided musical selections during Saturday's hourlong dedication, and Kathleen Toohey-Carbone sang the national anthem and an old show tune, "You'll Never Walk Alone." American Legion Post 155 of Dalton provided the color guard to open the ceremony and the firing squad later gave a three-volley salute.
Jared Geary, of Cheshire, held his infant son Lucas in his arms as the city paid tribute his uncle, a man he knew only through stories. He again listened to some of the same stories, but this time at a familiar building bearing his uncle's name.
"For most of my adolescence, I played here three days a week, playing in the house league and travel league," he said. "It's truly an honor to be here."